History of Virginia - Hiram Allison Alexander

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Hiram Allison Alexander

HIRAM ALLISON ALEXANDER. While every branch of industrial activity is interdependent upon many others, there is none that exerts a more powerful influence than that of coal production. Without an adequate coal production all other industries must cease; transportation is tied up; employment ceases, and chaos is the result. The ownership of coal fields may change the government of a nation, and the loss of such property has wiped a people off the face of the world map. Therefore too much importance cannot be accorded to the coal industry, nor can the service of those engaged in it be overestimated. Some of the roost productive fields of the country are located in Virginia and West Virginia, and their operation is directed by experienced men of ability, many of whom have gained their knowledge of the work through long practical experience. One of these capable men who is rendering an excellent account of himself in connection with this great industry is Hiram Allison Alexander, superintendent of the Stonega Coal & Coke Company, with headquarters at Stonega.

Hiram Allison Alexander was born on a farm in Pulaski County, Virginia, two miles south of Newbern, in 1874, a son of Henry Hance Alexander, grandson of Jabin Baldwin Alexander, and a descendant of Archibald Alexander, of Scotch-Irish descent, who came from Ireland to the American colonies and settled in New Jersey, where he was engaged in ministerial labors as a clergyman of the Presbyterian faith. Jabin Baldwin Alexander: was born at Union, Monroe County, West Virginia, and died at Newbern, Virginia, at the age of eighty-eight years. Coming to Newbern in young manhood, he established his home there, and became a very large land and slave owner, and a man of paramount importance in his neighborhood. He was also engaged in merchandising, held large railroad contracts, and participated in every movement of local importance. A very strong democrat, he was a, leader of his party, and represented his county in the Virginia House of Delegates. His different operations were further expanded until they included the conduct of a grain mill and a distillery, and the handling upon an extensive scale of cattle, but during the last few years of his life he was retired. He married Virginia Hance, a daughter of Henry Hance, a pioneer settler of Pulaski County. She was born in the vicinity of Newborn, and died at Newbern at the age of seventy-six years.

Henry Hance Alexander was born at Newbern, Virginia, November 29, 1840, and died on the home farm May 15, 1916, having resided in that neighborhood all of his life. Reared on his father's large plantation, he was preparing himself for the profession of medicine when war was declared between the North and the South, and he enlisted for the conflict in 1861. He belonged to a company formed at the tune of John Brown's raid at Harpers Ferry, mustered in as company C, Fourth Virginia Regiment, Stonewall's Brigade, immediately after the secession of the State of Virginia in 1861. Mr. Alexander was first sergeant of Company C until August, 1861. He received commission as lieutenant and was ordered to report to Gen. F. B. Floyd, remaining with Floyd until he was suspended in Tennessee, thence to Richmond under Gen. Alex. Reynolds, was with him a short time and afterward with Gen. G. C. Wharton until the first of 1863. He was then ordered from Charleston, West Virginia, to Maj. J. B. Dorman at Dublin, Virginia, as commandant of guard until the Cloyd Farm fight. Afterward was with General Wharton, under Gen. J. Early, in his whole campaign in the Valley of Virginia, until Averill, a Northern general, whipped him at Waynesboro, Virginia. Mr. Alexander never signed any parole or took oath of allegiance to the United States Government.

Following the termination of the war he returned home, but conditions were so changed that he gave up all idea of entering the medical profession, and devoted himself to fanning and stock raising. In the course of time he was successful in this and other undertakings, and became one of the most active agriculturists of his section, and dealt in cattle upon a large scale. His stock farm was one of the best in the vicinity of Newborn. Like his father, he was a very strong democrat. The Presbyterian Church held his membership, and he was active in church work until his death. He married Joanna Allison, who was born February 28, 1844, near what is now Draper, on New River, Pulaski County, Virginia. She died on the home farm March 10, 1909. Their children were as follows: Janie Allison, who resides at Dublin, Pulaski County, is the wife of Ollie Erskin Jordan, a seed and fertilizer merchant, farmer and ex-treasurer of Pulaski County, and ex-member of the Virginia House of Delegates, to which body he -was elected on the democratic ticket; Jabin Baldwin, who was a railroad employe at E, Paso, Texas, was taken ill and removed to Dublin, Virginia, and died in his sister's home, in 1920, at the age of fifty years; Laura Benson, who is unmarried, resides at Dublin, Virginia, and is secretary of the Jordan Seed & Fertilizer Company, owned by her brother-in-law, Ollie Erskin Jordan; Hiram Allison, who was the fourth child in order of birth; Rush Floyd, who is purchasing agent of the Southern Gypsum Company, resides at North Holston, Virginia; John McCampbell, -who died on the home farm at the age of twenty-four years; and Joe Mcllhaney, who is a traveling representative for a large fertilizer house of Norfolk, Virginia, and a farmer, resides at Pulaski, Pulaski County, Virginia.

Hiram Allison Alexander attended the graded and high schools of Pulaski County, arced remained on his father's farm until 1893. In that year he left the farm and became a clerk in a Newbern store, holding this position for twenty-three months. For the subsequent eighteen months he was in tire employ of George L. Carter, then associated with the Dora Furnace Company in Pulaski, Virginia. November 13, 1896, Mr. Alexander came to Toms Creek as timekeeper for the Tours Creek Coal & Coke Company, arid worked his way up with that concern until he was its land :agent in Wise, Scott, Russell and Dickenson counties, over about 60,000 acres of coal and mineral lands, but he severed those connections in 1910, and was placed in charge of operations in the production of coal mines at Marion, Virginia, of the Virginia Iron, Coal & Coke Company. His work in this connection attracted the attention of other companies, and he was offered anal accepted the superintendency of the Imboden, Virginia, operations of the Stonega Coal & Coke Company, which position he continued to hold until July 4, 1921, when he was transferred to Stonega as superintendent of the Stonega Coal & Coke Company. The coal mines of this company are located at Stonega, and 300 ovens are operated by it. The capacity of the mines is 60,000 tons of coal a month. Under Mr. Alexander's supervision there are 775 employes.

Both by inheritance and conviction Mr. Alexander is a democrat, and he has served as a notary public, his occupancy of that office occurring while he was a resident of Toms Creek. Since 1894 he has been a member of the Presbyterian Church. He is secretary and treasurer of the Swords Creek Coal & Coke Corporation, and is one of tire important figures in tire coal fields of Virginia. During the late war Mr. Alexander worked very hard to speed up the coal production of his mines to supply the coal necessary for war and industrial purposes, and he also bought bonds and War Savings Stamps, and contributed to the limit of his means to different war organizations. He also helped in all of the different drives, anal was zealous in behalf of all local activities. The colliery he represented in war times never failed to far exceed purchasing its quota allotment of Government bonds and stamps.

On September 9, 1903, Mr. Alexander married, near Draper in Pulaski County, Miss Mary Dodd Jordan, a daughter of Thomas Walden and Catherine Hammond (Longley) Jordan, both of whom :ire deceased. Mrs. Jordan was a daughter of Prof. Edmund Longley, who held the chair of modern language. It is, however, a universally accepted fact that few men have been so potent in moulding the public policy and shaping the destiny of the county along lines of progressive development in keeping with those higher ideals toward which the loyal, public- spirited and patriotic citizen is always striving, and, whether through political lines or other measures, his labors are always exerted with the interests of the county at heart.